No Pain, No Gain? Not So Much.

One of the most frequently used “motivational” phrases is the simple no pain, no gain saying. At a glance, it almost makes sense - making progress or big changes is uncomfortable and “painful” in a sense. The issue I take with this is the notion that we need to be in PHYSICAL or MENTAL anguish ALL THE TIME in order to make gains. Um, no.

[stones are painful on occasion but oh so damn fun]

Sorry but feeling like you want to die during every.single.workout probably isn’t a good training strategy. Yeah, they may be tough, and yeah, it may even hurt a little but this shouldn’t be your existence every time you step in to the gym. Yes, 3x7 squats are indeed, uncomfortable, and between most sets I want nothing more than to lay on my platform, but I don’t have that feeling day in and day out. I have days that are easier, days that are more intense, and cycle through these each week because I have a good coach and solid programming.  I suppose I’m a bit (a lot) spoiled by this - even when I was doing Crossfit 5x a week, I wasn’t going balls (ovaries?) out on every workout. We had skill days where the intensity was lower, we had more strength oriented days with heavier loads and higher volume, and then we had days where we did things like “fran” and “jackie” and other intense workouts. Essentially, effort expenditure was managed in a way that was conducive to progress.

Yes, it may seem supercoolawesomehawt to lay in a pile of sweat, feeling like you’re going to keel over after every workout but really all you’re doing is running yourself into the ground. Better yet - please don’t make others who don’t want/need to end their workouts in a sea of bodily fluids feel inadequate. There is lots of lipservice paid to the notion that things like CrossFit and lifting weights are for everyone (and they can be) but again, the “look at me!” message isn’t very effective.

[I plan and prep most of meals - fries, chips, and Reese's cups included]

The same principle applies to food. It seems like social media absolutely glorifies extreme restriction - particularly in the “paleo” realm. I’ve lost counts of how many “OMG I just want some chocolate but I’m being super good and can’t have any sugar for the next 15 years”. type posts have run across my Facebook or Twitter feed.  Not only is the sort of moral “better  than thou” attitude/message irritating (I eat Reese cups on the regular and I’m a pretty decent human being) but it’s also isolating...and not to mention, that doesn't seem like a very sustainable way to live your life.

I was noticing the other day that my Instagram feed was an interesting mix of strict-ish paleo things and then the eat-all-the-things IIFYM perspective. Think a post-workout meal of lettuce, sweet potatoes and chicken thighs next to post-workout meal of a burger, fries, milkshake. I personally fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum - and I noticed that each “side”, if you will, engaged in some sort of glorifying of this “no pain, no gain” mentality. Why can’t we call just eat food - that we want to eat, that nourishes us, and that makes us feel good? Want some chocolate? Eat some and be satisfied. I promise that the world will not fall on you if you eat some fries. (If you DO have emotional food issues - talk to someone and come up with a game plan that gets you to a happy place.)

On the flip side of that, you’re an adult and you should probably eat something green because it will benefit you. If you’re an athlete focused on performance, you are probably going to need to adhere to some sort of nutritional strategy and be a bit disciplined. If you have a medical condition or other health issue and want to change it via diet, then do it - just remember to be nice to yourself.

Moral of the story? Work HARD for the things you want and be smart about it. Oh, and eat chocolate. And hookgrip some deadlifts - it builds character and callouses.